Never gonna give you up…Never gonna let you down…
Now that you have survived my attempt at a “Rickroll” with Rick Astley famous song and probably can’t get it out of your head, I might just have a cure for you.
The cure is quite easy actually, as all you need to do is think about and celebrate the awesome video game franchises that have never faltered and brought joy the gamers across the globe with every entry. For this article, the criteria are that the games in a franchise have to be from the same genre and that there should be at least three main entries. With that in mind, let’s celebrate the franchises that have never let us down and never faltered with one of their main entries.
From Software’s Dark Souls series is in no uncertain terms my favourite video game franchise ever. From the mind of game director Hidetaka Miyazaki, the Souls series has tortured, frightened and embraced me with its dark, intriguing and mysterious stories. However, it is the franchise’s level design and immensely challenging combat as well as gruesome bosses that really makes it stand head and shoulders above any other RPG experience.
I know not everyone is a Souls fan and honestly, I don’t blame those who aren’t. There were moments that I felt like giving up (Ornstein and Smough from the original), but for some reason, I kept coming back for more until I finished all three Dark Souls titles multiple times. All three Dark Souls games lock on to that same idea: You will die, over and over again.
Death is part of the journey in a Dark Souls experience and although the games are immensely challenging, every encounter is fair. If you die, it is your mistake and your mistake alone. Throw in eerie, interconnected environments and dark discoveries to be made and the Dark Souls games become an unforgettable experience. With the Dark Souls franchise, From Software never strayed too far from the formula. Why would they when they have already perfected the recipe for RPG greatness?
From the first steps I took as Geralt of Rivia in the original The Witcher game in 2007, CD Projekt Red became one of my favourite developers of all time. The original The Witcher, for those who haven’t played it, was a bit different than The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings and the brilliant The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, as the first game in the franchise was played from a top-down perspective. However, it wasn’t the graphics or the even the admittedly great combat that made me fall in love with the game, but instead, it was the stories, the politics and the strong focus on alchemy that made The Witcher stand out through my 40-hour playthrough.
CD Projekt Red was clearly on to something and in 2011, the unleashed The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings. The second entry retained the deep lore and focus on an exciting, mature story, but also upped the ante with mind-blowing graphics (for the time) and a much deeper combat system. In 2015, I was again blown away by The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, a game that took everything good from the first two entries and elevated the whole experience to another level entirely. The series finale and both the expansions is, as most of you know, one of the best RPGs ever created and when Marco reviewed the Game of the Year edition in September 2016, he called it “almost flawless”.
Quite honestly, that’s exactly what The Witcher 3 is and The Witcher franchise as a whole has been one brilliant ride from start to finish.
In 1996 I stood in front of two games in a store and I had one massive choice to make. You see, I could choose one game for my birthday and it would be either Quake or Duke Nukem 3D. It was one of the most difficult choices I had to make and, in the end, I chose Quake. With id Software’s first Quake title, my life changed forever with its focus on online multiplayer, actual 3D character models instead of sprites commonly used back in the day and, of course, rocket jumping. Then in December 1997, Quake 2 was unleashed and introduced the Strogg in a strong single-player campaign as well as improvements to the multiplayer. However, the greatest entry ever has to be Quake III Arena, focusing only on the multiplayer experience and taking the franchise to the next level entirely.
Out of Quake III Arena, Quake Live was born later on and to this day is still the best FPS 1vs1 experience you can have, polished to perfection. Even Quake 4, released all the way back in 2005, delivered an awesome single-player experience and importantly, continued to deliver a great multiplayer, also introducing crouch-sliding for even more movement options.
Fast forward to the present and we have Quake Champions, a game set to reimagine the franchise with champion abilities, while at the same time retaining the core experience of fast-paced action. Essentially, it is the core of Quake pulled into the modern era and id Software is making so many improvements that I think Quake Champions might just turn out to be the best Quake yet when it releases sometime this year. There is no doubt that the Quake franchise has been one hell of a ride and honestly, it has never let me down and quite possibly never will.
The Elder Scrolls
Many gamers today might be a bit too young to remember the first Elder Scrolls titles. Sure, Skyrim is a masterpiece and everyone knows about them, but before Skyrim, Oblivion or Morrowind, Bethesda had multiple other titles in the franchise that started it all. In 1994, Bethesda released The Elder Scrolls: Arena featuring an absolutely massive game world and shortly afterwards began work on Daggerfall, which released in 1996. Daggerfall was staggering in its size and used one of the first true 3D engines called XnGine.
When I say staggering, I really mean it, as the game world was roughly 161,600 square kilometres in size and had a population of over 750,000 as well as 15,000 towns and cities. Mind = Blown. However, it was Morrowind that made me really fall in love with the franchise ever since I first tried to find my way to Balmora in the game. Then, Oblivion came out and although the game had some flaws, it is by no means a title that you can consider bad or a failure. Skyrim followed and as most of you know, it is one of the best RPGs out there. There is even a VR version of the game now, allowing the player to experience the world of Skyrim like never before.
Throughout the main entries in the Elder Scrolls franchise, Bethesda has never faltered. Sure, there are bugs and glitches, but that is the price to pay for player freedom that every title has provided in the most expertly crafted ways. There is no doubt in my mind that The Elder Scrolls is a franchise that has gone from strength to strength and although the newer entries aren’t as massive as the first two, Bethesda have refined The Elder Scrolls experience so much throughout the years.
Grand Theft Auto
There is no denying Rockstar Games’ Grand Theft Auto franchise as one of the greatest in gaming history since the release of the first title back in 1997. Sure, the franchise has had more than its fair share of controversies due to the violent nature and basically putting the player in a role of a criminal, where they can reign destruction on the various cities. Stealing vehicles are, of course, at the heart of the experience and sometimes that gets frowned upon.
However, as a gamer and someone who is of the opinion that video game violence does not translate into real life incidents, I think every game in infamous GTA franchise has been a brilliant, addictive and extremely exciting experience. From the original GTA to San Andreas all the way to the biggest and best entry yet, GTA V, the franchise has continued to build on the ideas that made it great in the first place and every experience has been bigger and better than the last.
There is no doubt in my mind that there will be more entries in the franchise and there are even some rumours floating around about GTA VI being in development. Clearly, Rockstar has a winning franchise, so much so that I would even still recommend the original GTA to anyone right now, that’s how good it is and I am sure most gamers would agree.
You might see many franchises on the list that you consider never having faltered. At first, I thought of Fallout, but then I remembered Fallout Tactics. Even Mario had some bad spots in my opinion, but I am sure there are more video game franchises out there that have not had a bad main entry. With that in mind, tell us what you think about the top 5 picks in this article and share your ideas about other video game franchises that have never faltered in the comment section below.